Charles Dickens

My rapid mind pursued him

to the town, made a picture of the street with him in it, and

contrasted its lights and life with the lonely marsh and the white

vapour creeping over it, into which I should have dissolved.

It was not only that I could have summed up years and years and

years while he said a dozen words, but that what he did say

presented pictures to me, and not mere words. In the excited and

exalted state of my brain, I could not think of a place without

seeing it, or of persons without seeing them. It is impossible to

over-state the vividness of these images, and yet I was so intent,

all the time, upon him himself - who would not be intent on the

tiger crouching to spring! - that I knew of the slightest action of

his fingers.

When he had drunk this second time, he rose from the bench on which

he sat, and pushed the table aside. Then, he took up the candle,

and shading it with his murderous hand so as to throw its light on

me, stood before me, looking at me and enjoying the sight.

"Wolf, I'll tell you something more. It was Old Orlick as you

tumbled over on your stairs that night."

I saw the staircase with its extinguished lamps. I saw the shadows

of the heavy stair-rails, thrown by the watchman's lantern on the

wall. I saw the rooms that I was never to see again; here, a door

half open; there, a door closed; all the articles of furniture


"And why was Old Orlick there? I'll tell you something more, wolf.

You and her have pretty well hunted me out of this country, so far

as getting a easy living in it goes, and I've took up with new

companions, and new masters. Some of 'em writes my letters when I

wants 'em wrote - do you mind? - writes my letters, wolf! They

writes fifty hands; they're not like sneaking you, as writes but

one. I've had a firm mind and a firm will to have your life, since

you was down here at your sister's burying. I han't seen a way to

get you safe, and I've looked arter you to know your ins and outs.

For, says Old Orlick to himself, 'Somehow or another I'll have

him!' What! When I looks for you, I finds your uncle Provis, eh?"

Mill Pond Bank, and Chinks's Basin, and the Old Green Copper

Rope-Walk, all so clear and plain! Provis in his rooms, the signal

whose use was over, pretty Clara, the good motherly woman, old Bill

Barley on his back, all drifting by, as on the swift stream of my

life fast running out to sea!

"You with a uncle too! Why, I know'd you at Gargery's when you was

so small a wolf that I could have took your weazen betwixt this

finger and thumb and chucked you away dead (as I'd thoughts o'

doing, odd times, when I see you loitering amongst the pollards on

a Sunday), and you hadn't found no uncles then. No, not you! But

when Old Orlick come for to hear that your uncle Provis had

mostlike wore the leg-iron wot Old Orlick had picked up, filed

asunder, on these meshes ever so many year ago, and wot he kep by

him till he dropped your sister with it, like a bullock, as he

means to drop you - hey? - when he come for to hear that - hey?--"

In his savage taunting, he flared the candle so close at me, that I

turned my face aside, to save it from the flame.

"Ah!" he cried, laughing, after doing it again, "the burnt child

dreads the fire! Old Orlick knowed you was burnt, Old Orlick knowed

you was smuggling your uncle Provis away, Old Orlick's a match for

you and know'd you'd come to-night! Now I'll tell you something

more, wolf, and this ends it. There's them that's as good a match

for your uncle Provis as Old Orlick has been for you. Let him 'ware

them, when he's lost his nevvy! Let him 'ware them, when no man

can't find a rag of his dear relation's clothes, nor yet a bone of

his body. There's them that can't and that won't have Magwitch -

yes, I know the name! - alive in the same land with them, and

that's had such sure information of him when he was alive in

another land, as that he couldn't and shouldn't leave it unbeknown

and put them in danger.